Chef Sean McGaughey packed up most of his staff and all of his chef’s surprises on June 5 and moved them to Aria’s, 250 Josephine St. in Cherry Creek North, ending Opus Restaurant’s 10-year run as a “Littleton gem” on Main Street.
Opus’ $20-and-up entrees placed it on the high end of the Littleton dining scene and made it a destination for foodies throughout the region. However, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the company owed more than $10,400 in back taxes as of last August. It’s recorded under the name MDM LLC, doing business as Opus Restaurant, which was registered to Michael Long and Peter Criss. It dissolved in 2010; by then Criss had registered MDM 2 LLC at the Opus address. That entity remains in good standing with the state.
The revenue department only posts once a year, and removes those who pay up right away, according to the website.
Nobody from Opus could be reached for comment.
Austin Hauck, next door to the now-vacant space, is a men’s specialty store that boasts a $2,100 jacket from Milan in the front window. Owner Douglas Hauck says the store sells to discerning customers all over the world, and tickets can run from $20 to $20,000. He was disappointed that Opus left, including it among the destinations that drew customers to Main Street.
“There’s a better vibe than 11 years ago,” said Hauck, who sat on the city’s Business/Industry Affairs Committee when it was dissolved in 2007. “But some of the smaller businesses don’t see the big vision and don’t see how we can be a regional draw.”
Some other familiar facades have flown the downtown coop along with Opus. Tres Jolie Tea and Champagne Bar is in the process of shutting down, Littleton Beauty Academy is no more and Downtown Dinners (formerly Souper Suppers) moved to the Broadridge Shopping Center at Broadway and Ridge Road.
A quick survey of Main Street reveals a bigger variety of storefronts than a decade ago, when pretty much the only place to get lunch was the Family Bar (now Olde Towne Tavern). Back then, downtown was mostly hair salons and knickknacks. There are still plenty of those, joined by spices and fancy oils, chocolate and sweets, wine and bridal gowns, yoga and ballet, art and antiques, dresses and dance, real-estate companies and cruises, not to mention the full complement of restaurants from McKinner’s to Merle’s, Kate’s Wine Bar to Jake’s Brew Bar, JaJa Bistro to Jose’s.
Plans are in place for the former automotive shop at the west end of Main Street; four retail spaces will fill the space, and a second story might be added later to house two residential units.
Two ladies consignment stores have joined the downtown team: Gypsy Rose moved back after several years, and Full Circle Clothing is a brand-new venture. Its owners say the foot traffic, charm, affordability and small-town feel were appealing.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Main Street,” said Arlinda Trujillo. “Business is booming.”